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Dulwich Hamlet defender recalls moments his Crystal Palace prospects took a critical hit


Jerome Binnom-Williams felt his chance of making it as a regular starter at Crystal Palace slipped away when Tony Pulis quit less than 48 hours before the start of the 2014-15 Premier League campaign.

The Eagles academy graduate left-back had already made a competitive first-team appearance for the the club, starting the 2-1 EFL Cup defeat at Bristol City after Palace settled into life in the Premier League following their promotion via the Championship play-offs.

But Binnom-Williams spent the rest of that season with the U21 side and joined Forest Green Rovers for a short loan spell.

He was part of Pulis’ squad for the pre-season tour of Austria and the USA, starting the 13-1 win over Gak Graz.

But as the Eagles geared up for their second season in the top flight, Pulis left the club by mutual consent, sending the club into meltdown two days before their opening fixture away to Arsenal.

“I was devastated,” Binnom-Williams, 28, told the South London Press of Pulis’ departure. “When I tell people about Tony Pulis, people look at me confused and say: ‘Really?’ But he got me the fittest I have ever been in football.

“All those hill runs and getting up at six in the morning but, thinking about it now, it was so good for me.

“It was a tough pre-season under him – Austria was the worst – but I was so grateful to have the experience and understanding.

“He used to sit me down and ask how I was and how my family were.

“As a youngster coming through, when I didn’t have that much confidence around first-team players, he made me feel comfortable.

“He used to tell me to keep working hard and my chance would come.

“I played a lot of first-team pre-season games under him. I was meant to be in the squad for the first game against Arsenal.  I had a really good pre-season and I thought I was going to be in and around the first team quite a lot. But it happens and you have to start again under a new manager. “

Pulis was replaced by Neil Warnock in the managerial hotseat.

Despite Binnom-Williams making his second, and what would turn out to be his final, competitive appearance in the 3-0 EFL Cup win at Walsall, he was shipped out to Southend in League Two for the rest of the campaign and helped them win promotion via the play–offs.

Loan spells at Burton Albion and Leyton Orient followed for Binnom-Williams, who was making a name for himself in league football in the fledgling stages of his career.

But when he returned to Palace at the end of the 2015-16 season he decided he needed new pastures.

“Alan Pardew brought me up to train with the first team quite a lot, but by that time I just wanted to go,” he explained of leaving to sign for League One side Peterborough.

“It was the right time to leave. I had those first-team games and played under the likes of Kevin Nolan and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. After coming back I was just in and out of the first team during pre-season.

“In my head, I felt I couldn’t just sit around playing my age group anymore – I wanted to play men’s football.”

Binnom-Williams has gone on to win nearly a century of National League appearances and more than 75 outings in league football.

Now he is targeting promotion with Dulwich Hamlet after returning to the South London area, 13 years after making his debut for Crystal Palace.

The Croydon-born defender joined Hamlet in the summer after they were relegated from the National League South on the final day of the season.

After a shaky start in the Isthmian League Premier Division, Hakan Hayrettin’s side recorded a 10-game unbeaten run and find themselves eight points adrift of the play-off spots heading into the second half of the campaign.

He dropped down two divisions after 19 National League appearances for Maidstone in the 2022-23 season as he looks to help Dulwich regain their place in the sixth tier of English football at the first time of asking.

He added: “Lots of people, when they leave academies, never get to play in the league or the National League.

“I wouldn’t change any of it at all. In football, you have to be mentally strong. When you’re not playing, you get down and you feel as though it’s not one of those days. But I kept telling myself to keep pushing, and I’m grateful for the career I have had.

“Last season was an up-and-down one for me. I had an injury during pre-season and it was hard to get back into the team. But I had no concerns about dropping down. For me, football is football – I enjoy it. I have played against Dulwich since the age of 18 – it’s a good club.

“Hak called me and I was up for it.

“We had a rough start, but we were just trying to find our feet.

“It’s been an okay start but we have a second half of the season now to put everything right and to push for the play-offs.

“I want to get promoted – that’s my goal. I have done it before, and that’s everybody’s ambition in the team.”


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